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Published: 2012/07/02
by Adam Crawford

Peter Rowan and the Mosier Brothers, The Handlebar, Greenville, SC – 6/16

Photo by Ronald Rietman

Having only a little experience with the Mosier Brothers’ previous band, Blueground Undergrass, it was hard knowing what to expect from their collaboration with Peter Rowan. Peter Rowan’s reputation speaks for itself. He has been making great music for decades with some of the biggest names in bluegrass, country, and rock’n‘roll. Peter Rowan always puts on a good show, but other than that there was really no telling what was to come.

Walking into a sparse crowd on a Saturday night at the Handlebar seemed awkward. Then Peter Rowan and the Mosier Brothers came on stage in the form of an old time string band playing with a single mic. This was a bit surprising, but having little background with the Mosier Brothers, perhaps this was the way this short tour was going. From early on the single mic, acoustic set up seemed out of place to the members of the Mosier Brothers. During Peter Rowan’s “Land of the Navajo”, guitarist Johnny Mosier got the first solo of the night and seemed to feel uncomfortable. He had a hard time finding a real groove during the solo and it was magnified as Peter Rowan swooped in behind him and played a fantastic solo. Rowan was obviously more comfortable with this set up than the Mosier Brothers, but the band was able to put together a nice rendition of Ralph Stanley’s “Clinch Mountain Backstep” that got the growing crowd moving. At this point, Rowan gave the stage up to the Mosier Brothers and they changed the direction of the night.

As Rowan left, a drummer set up behind a kit, Johnny Mosier took up an electric guitar and bassist Kris Dale also moved to an electric. Jeff Mosier stuck with his banjo. They played a really short but solid set of tunes before Peter Rowan came back out. Rowan also brought out his electric guitar as he led the band through a fantastic version of “The Raven”. “The Raven” opened up into some fantastic jamming that saw Johnny Mosier get a lot more comfortable and deliver some fantastic solos. It was great to see Peter Rowan ripping solos on the electric guitar. The rock sound continued with another Rowan staple, “Panama Red.” “Panama Red” also opened up for some great jamming and even saw Peter Rowan break into a dance groove as the jam led into a reggae feel. Rowan then began to banter about going to the Tea Party but being unable to find any tea. After a couple more tunes, the band took a short break before returning for another brief set that culminated in a fantastic rendition of “Midnight Moonlight.”

Despite the slow start, this collaboration seemed to work well. The tour was brief, but hopefully the Mosier Brothers will be able to find some time to play with Peter Rowan again. There certainly seemed to be a mutual respect between Rowan and the band and the playing was great. Peter Rowan continues to garner respect from old and new fans alike as he is always willing to try new things to create new sounds. That is an admirable characteristic of a musician with as big of a catalog as Rowan has. He could rest on his laurels playing the same songs the same way, but he is willing to challenge himself to find fresh ways to play some of his classics.

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